19 Comments

Summary:

Samsung has already sold 600,000 Galaxy Tab slates, just one month after introducing the Google Android tablet. Steve Jobs has criticized such 7-inch tablets, saying that users would need to “sand down their fingers” to use them, but clearly there’s a market for an 7-inch iPad.

samsung-galaxy-tab-multi

Samsung has sold 600,000 units of its Galaxy Tab slate, just one month after launching the Google Android device. Apple still owns the consumer tablet market with more than 7.5 million iPads sold since June, but Samsung’s smaller slate is doing well, considering the operating system and apps are optimized for a smaller phone, not a tablet. Yet, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said last month that 7-inch tablets such as the Galaxy Tab are no good unless the user “can sand down their fingers to around one-quarter of the present size.” It sounds to me that more than half a million consumers are proving that theory wrong and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 7-inch iPad debut next year.

To be fair, Apple typically doesn’t react to market competition. Instead, it evaluates current products in existing markets and then attempts to perfect the design and performance of such devices. That’s what Apple has done with the iPod, the iPhone and, most recently, the iPad. I suspect, however, that Rodman & Renshaw analyst, Ashok Kumar is correct, however, when he said in September that Apple is working on a 7-inch version of its iPad.

If Samsung can move 600,000 slates with a 7-inch screen at prices comparable to the 9.7-inch iPad, surely Apple can create a smaller iPad and undercut Samsung’s pricing. It wouldn’t be the first time Apple produces something that Jobs said the company would never build; in 2008, when debuting the original 13-inch MacBook Air, Jobs said 11- to 12-inch ultraportable notebooks have screens that are too small, yet the most recent MacBook Air comes in an 11.6-inch model.

I love my 9.7-inch iPad, but there’s something to be said for a smaller and lighter tablet. James recently reviewed the Galaxy Tab and found it so enjoyable of an experience to hold and use that he just ordered his own Galaxy Tab from Sprint earlier today. I haven’t even used a Galaxy Tab, but I can see the appeal because it’s lighter and easier to tote around.

What about that size issue alluded to by Jobs though? With a smaller display, Apple could easily keep the same 1024 x 768 resolution it uses for the current iPad so as not to break any existing applications; iPad apps would work on both a 7-inch and 9.7-inch iPad, in that case. If 960 x 640 resolution works on the 3.5-inch display of an iPhone and iPod touch, surely we don’t need to “sand down” our fingers to use the higher resolution display of a 7-inch iPad.

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  1. I don’t think Jobs believed that when he said it. No more than he believed that people don’t read anymore when he said that. It was never more than marketing speak. Goes double for his comments about 4.3″ screen phones being to big. Even if we never see a 4″ iPhone, it will still just be marketing speak.

    Apple is impressively successful and Apple products are exception in many ways. It doesn’t mean their way is the only right way. The market has plenty of room for many ideas.

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  2. For once, I’m siding with Steve, and I don’t do it often. In order to use the Tab for any productivity stuff, I’m going to HAVE to buy a keyboard. And lug it around. And have a contract for the thing. I don’t have to do any of those things with an iPad.

    If you want a glorified Kindle you can play Angry Birds on, then sure, Tab is going to win, but I think he’s right about the overall usefulness of an iPad over the Tab. If I’m going to lug a tablet and a keyboard, I might as well just take my laptop.

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  3. It’s all about the keyboard. I can rest my ipad in it’s case and bang out an easy 80-90% of my regular typing speed, since the keys and spacing are almost exactly the same as the one I’m used to.

    On a 7″ tablet I’d barely be able to get all 8 fingers on the screen, let alone type well…

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  4. Cyndy and Darren: no doubt that when the screen size dimishes, so too can productivity due to a smaller software keyboard. It’s the same problem we have with smartphones, although it’s magnified by an even smaller screen. I don’t know if any 7-inch tablets will ever rival a 10-inch one for that reason, but Samsung proves there’s still a sizable market looking to consume content and use apps on something smaller than the iPad of today.

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    1. It is ironic that the same arguments used against the iPad (its keyboard is not nearly as good as my laptop for typing) are now being used against the 7″ form-factor by iPad fans.

      What happened to the world needing a consumption device?

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  5. I’ve been using the Verizon Galaxy Tab for the past week and a half. I’m really liking it quite a lot. The browser is very robust, and all the Android apps I’ve tried work great.

    The 7″ screen and form-factor is quite usable. At half the size and weight of the iPad the device is much more portable than the iPad. I have a nice leather “Scuba Folio” case for it, and I can easily slip it in my coat pocket and go anywhere with it. (It even fits in my back pants pocket in a pinch. Handy when you are running out of hands.)

    On of the big surprises for me is how usable this device is in portrait mode. (In contrast I’ve found I prefer to use the iPad in landscape mode.) The real productivity win is the pre-installed Swype input method in portrait mode. You can hold the device with one hand and Swype with the other. It is very fast, I’m much faster with Swype on the Galaxy Tab than hunt-and-peck typing on the iPad.

    In landscape mode, the Galaxy Tab is not as good as the iPad for 10-finger “touch typing” because your fingers tend to block your view of the virtual keys. But one finger hunt-and-peck or two-thumb typing works fine.

    Mr. Jobs is sometimes a very silly man.

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    1. Excelent!

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  6. I was really skeptical of the Galaxy Tab, until I saw a working unit today at Rogers kiosk. I really like the form factor and the weight (although hard to tell with all the security wires/attachments).

    But….the price is killer – in Canada it is $540 on a THREE year contract. Not a chance. This thing has to be a couple of bills and wifi and I’m in.

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    1. sorry – I forgot to mention that I also saw the Dell Streak – at least I think I did – sad, sad, sad. Rogers obviously doesn’t hold out much hope; it was not live, nor did it have even one of the fake screen stickers; and no dell id on it. Maybe it was something completely different….sad

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  7. I can say that a 7″ screen size iPad would be great for those that prefer a more portable device. I think most are thinking that 7″ screen is not productive, but I see this as a quick information device, when you don’t need all that screen real-estate. Not that you couldn’t be productive on a 7″ screen on a pinch. I would purchase a 7″ iPad if one was avaliable. I’m trying to decide in purchasing a Galaxy Tab, unless there is more concrete signs of a 7″ iPad in the future.

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  8. I already find that on extremely cluttered sites that use less than optimal font size that I need to pinch the page to make it large enough to insure correct URL link selection… think how annoying that would be on a 7″ screen… no thanks!

    And can you fathom trying to tips on that small of a keyboard? Just not going to happen for anyone truly serious about using a tablet full time.

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  9. jahan khan rashid Monday, November 22, 2010

    Who says people want this device for productivity? Maybe they want an entertainment device with long battery life that fits in your coat pocket that you can also do light productivity things like the odd email,ebay,letter,blog post etc. Its funny reading peoples posts scrambling to defend Apples comments on 7″ devices. Face it the markets there! For me personally the pros of a 7″ device far outweigh a 9.7″ device (the weight, ease of use to hold and rear camera were the biggest factors for me). I have the tab and have used it fully for office work at home (with and without the official samsung keyboard and a vaio bluetooth mouse and i had no problems at all.) Im willing to have a sportsmans bet that the majority of tab/ipad users only use them for entertainment and light surfing and emails etc anyway!. I just thumb typed this in bed lol.

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  10. i thought nobody wanted to watch video on iPods either? oh silly Steve, always being so hypocritical & relying on your fanbase to double-talk your way out of your own words “no no, what Steve REALLY meant was…”

    since i have a real memory & not a selective memory like Apple fanboys, since Steve said “no” this almost guarantee’s that within the next 2 years we will see a 7″ iPad. especially after 7″ Android tabs begin to crush iOS in that market space as well.

    the only issue i see is, if the resolution remains the same then all the screen elements will become smaller unless Dev’s reprogram their apps according to screen PPI & not just resolution.

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  11. Yeah, well, Steve Jobs said Apple would never produce a netbook, either and yet there’s the 11″ Air with suspiciously netbook-like specs. What he seems to mean when he says “Never” is, “Until we figure out how big a financial premium we can get away with”.

    Heck, even I’d be interested in a 7″ iPad, but let’s get real – anything over $400 for 32GB is nuts – but that goes double for Samsung, et al and their Android OS tablets.

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  12. The problem with a 7″ iPad now is that the iPad version of iOS is designed for a 10″ screen. If you scale down the screen, but maintain the resolution, the screen buttons get smaller. I honestly am not sure if iOS is capable of doing PPI scaling as Durdok mentions. This is why users may have to “sand down their fingers” (still a stupid comment whether correct or not). However, since the Galaxy Tab was designed to be 7″, it works well, and scaling up will be easier than scaling down.

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  13. Reginald Winwright IV Tuesday, November 23, 2010

    I hate to say this about my idol Mr. Jobs but he appears wrong about the 7″ tablet. Hopefully we will get a 7″ iPad 2 sometime next year to rectify this error. Also would welcome a 4.3″ iPhone if anyone in Cupertino is listening.
    Wait, maybe Steve was just bluffing when he said that to buy some more time for him to perfect that form factor, yeah that was prolly it for sure cuz everybody knows Steve is never “wrong”, he just is sometime not “exactly right” if you knows what i meanz.

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  14. I think there are many people who simply will not buy an iPad … and there are people who want a smaller tablet computer, the Galaxy Tab is catering to those people.

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  15. I just got a Galaxy Tab for use. I didn’t think I would like it. As a matter of fact, I just started fooling around with it just out of boredom really.
    Now I really like the size. It’s actually portable whereas the iPad is not.

    I think i’ll be carrying it everywhere. I sort of happy about this as I never wanted to lug anything Internet before. Be nice to be abel to check little things on the fly. :)

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  16. You are all forgetting one major thing: everybody in Star Trek were using 7″ tablets. Nuff said.

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